As a yogini, it is in my practice to read yoga related books on an ongoing basis. Most recently I read Eat Pray Love. I really enjoy memoirs. There is an art to story-telling, and Elizabeth Gilbert seems a master to me!
I loved this book. So many laughs and kick ass moments. This Goddess shines and inspires!
Here is my reaction in interview style…
Why did you read this book, Bijou?
I read this book because I randomly found it in my things and since I had done my yoga teacher training last year, I figured it would be interesting. I didn't know the premise of the book before deciding to read it; never saw the movie! And I was so happily surprised! I love to travel and have had incredible transcendent experiences while spending immersive time abroad. It is the story of a woman going through her divorce and taking time to heal afterwards. She spends 4 months in Italy, then 4 months in India and finally, 4 months in Bali. I am attracted to dramas and stories of overcoming hardship, and since this was a true one, I was intrigued. This book called to me as well because of the international vibe and the spiritual candor.
What kept you reading this book?
Elizabeth Gilbert is hilarious. The humor in this memoir struck home with some very real awkward aspects of daily life. I found her story very relatable, even though she and I have had much different lives.
When she is in Italy, I connected deeply with her experience of indulgence and pleasure.The most powerful message from that portion of the story came from her remarks about giving herself completely to the sensuality of the language, the food, the simple pleasures so revered by an entire culture and how this allowed her to align with her truth, her most pure vibration. I feel this resonates with my own time living in France and Morocco for my junior year of college purely to learn the languages and absorb the cultures. I came home from Europe/Africa trusting that when I honor simple pleasures and new perspectives, my Spirit is free to connect with all the things around me, and most of all, myself. I liked that she illustrated her message with concise and easy to read accounts.
Her tales of the Indian ashram carried the same humor and illustrated Elizabeth's experience in a divinely comedic way. I liked this part because it began to wade into the more serious spiritual aspect of her journey. Her description of her struggle turned love affair with the Gurugita, the Sanskrit chant sung every morning, is a huge symbol of her changing perspective. I enjoyed this metaphor.
In Bali, you could tell she was having the time of her life! The bit of drama at the end kept me interested, and I enjoyed her descriptions of the island and her experiences.
The end was a little too perfect but she deserves it!
Bijou, how does this memoir relate to yoga?
There are so many aspects of the story that speak self development and self love. In the beginning, she is at a breaking point and has a conversation with "God" (the voice inside her head that converses with her on paper). This action is the very essence of yoga! She looks within and finds all the answers right there. At one with herself. Yoga- Union. I find it a little ironic that she went on this drawn out theatrical journey to discover her desires, attune with the Divine and find harmony when it was clearly already available from the beginning. But that is our human flaw. Taking this simple fact for granted and getting caught up in our own stories.
I digress.. She devotes a lot of time to attuning to her truth and Divine wisdom. Devotion is an entire type of yoga, Bhakti yoga! She also demonstrates discipline, which is a yogic Niyama ethical observation. She does this by abstaining from sex for a prolonged amount of time. This practice is indeed yoga; to reserve your power in lieu of giving it away or contaminating yours with someone else's. You can tell by the end that she had gained a lot of power back.
Furthermore, she stays at an ashram for 4 months. This is fairly extreme for someone who's never been to an ashram, or India, but it is definitely yoga! And I'm definitely jealous about getting to stay there! I noticed her ebb and flow of self love vs attempting self "improvement". For us all, it is a struggle to find balance between what we want to embrace about ourselves and what to attempt to "improve". Elizabeth sought to make herself be seen as the mysterious quiet girl, when in reality that just wasn't her energy at all. She essentially wanted to embody a certain kind of energy, thinking this would bring her closer to the Divine peace she was looking for. In the end she is made to embrace the parts of her personality she was trying to suppress and enjoys being herself once more. Yay for being brave enough to see yourself and love yourself!
In Bali, Elizabeth continues to meditate. She has a dedicated practice and it carries her through. This is the place where she forms more relationships than mere friendships. She seems to go through thick and thin with them as well. Her time learning from the old sage carries the vibe that she hung out with Yoda. It was cool that she adopted the meditation he taught her and continued the practice she developed in India. Her choices throughout the book carried the intention of pure light and love, and most of all, truth. Her desires were to uphold her intention for her journey, and she did! Though in the end she makes the decision that she was ready to shift out of that phase and into a new one. She now owned her power by owning her truth and choices.
What were the main take-aways that stood out to you?
Elizabeth showed me that transformation takes time. Even though she had attuned to her higher self in the beginning, she needed to go through all the energy shifts, and let go of the heavy energy she was wading in, in order to even be aligned with the Divine guidance. By the end, she was simply moving from her intuition. When we aren't connected to our intuition, the Truth inside us will influence energy around us until we are forced to listen.
I also liked the message to accept your essence in full totality. That longing to be different in any way is a complete waste of time. This just distracts you from the Divine inside you. When you fail to recognize your Divine essence, by longing for it to be different, you won't see it at all! If you fully embrace and enjoy all the nuances of your Divine light, it will shine brightly and thrive!
What did you like about the style of the book?
I really enjoyed the humorous candor of this story. I have been working on laughing at life more, not taking life so seriously. Elizabeth took a serious phase of her life and sprinkled it with comical explanations and descriptions. You get the feel for her personality and that of the other characters.
I LOVED that there are 108 beads for the Mala. This is a very nice touch! Plus it was arranged in 3 equal parts just like her trip. So perfect.
Why would you recommend this book or for whom would you recommend it?
I would recommend this book to travelers, spiritual folks or anyone who is interested in self development. I think someone very familiar with yoga will catch on to certain nuances presented. For example, some references to things during her stay at the ashram were included in my yoga teacher training. If these things go over your head, no worries. Google is great or just leave it be. There is so much to be enjoyed in this read regardless.
It was easy to read, and went quickly! Let me know if you would like to borrow it!
Have you read this book? What is your reaction?
What are your recommendations for my next yogini read??